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Top 5 industrial internet of things use cases

The industrial IoT has already proven its versatility with deployments going live in a number of enterprises, showing off dozens of different use cases. But a few key uses consistently present themselves within the same trade, and even throughout different industries.

Top 5 industrial IoT use cases

It’s important to note that IoT use cases will likely expand in the next few years. That being said, we have compiled the top five industrial IoT use cases of today:

Predictive maintenance

Keeping assets up and running has the potential to significantly decreasing operational expenditures (opex), and save companies millions of dollars. With the use of sensors, cameras and data analytics, managers in a range of industries are able to determine when a piece of equipment will fail before it ever does. These IoT-enabled systems can sense signs of warning, use data to create a maintenance timeline and preemptively service equipment before problems occur.

By leveraging streaming data from sensors and devices to quickly assess current conditions, recognize warning signs, deliver alerts and automatically trigger appropriate maintenance processes, IoT turns maintenance into a dynamic, rapid and automated task.

This approach promises cost savings over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, because tasks are performed only when they are needed. The key is to get the right information in the right time. This will allow managers to know which equipment needs maintenance, maintenance work can be better planned and systems remain online while workers stay on task. Other potential advantages include increased equipment lifetime, increased plant safety and fewer accidents with negative impact on environment.

Smart metering

A smart meter is an internet-capable device that measures energy, water or natural gas consumption of a building or home, according to Silicon Labs.

Traditional meters only measure total consumption, whereas smart meters record when and how much of a resource is consumed. Power companies are deploying smart meters to monitor consumer usage and adjust prices according to the time of day and season.

Smart metering benefits utilities by improving customer satisfaction with faster interaction, giving consumers more control of their energy usage to save money and reduce carbon emissions. Smart meters also give visibility of power consumption all the way to the meter so utilities can optimize energy distribution and take action to shift demand loads.

According to Sierra Wireless, smart metering helps utilities to:

  • Reduce operating expenses by managing manual operations remotely
  • Improve forecasting and streamline power-consumption
  • Improve customer service through profiling and segmentation
  • Reduce energy theft
  • Simplify micro-generation monitoring and track renewable power

Asset tracking

A study on the maturity of asset efficiency practices from Infosys and the Institute for Industrial Management (FIR) at Aachen University revealed that 85% of manufacturing companies globally are aware of asset efficiency, but only 15% of the surveyed firms have implemented it at a systematic level.

source: Actsoft
source: Actsoft

Infosys and other supporting companies including Bosch, GE, IBM, Intel, National Instruments and PTC have launched a testbed with the main goal of collecting asset information efficiently and accurately in real-time and running analytics to allow the firms to make the best decisions.

The goal of asset tracking is to allow an enterprise to easily locate and monitor key assets (e.g. raw materials, final products, and containers) and to optimize logistics, maintain inventory levels, prevent quality issues and detect theft.

One industry that heavily relies on asset tracking is maritime shipping. On a large scale, sensors help track the location of a ship at sea, and on a smaller scale they are able to provide the status and temperature of individual cargo containers. One benefit is real-time metrics on refrigerated containers. These containers must be stored at constant temperatures so that perishable goods remain fresh.

Each refrigerated container needs to be equipped with temperature sensors, a processing unit and a mobile transmitter.

Automated vehicles

Automated vehicles are all the rage now-a-days. In its simplest term, an automated vehicle is a computer-controlled car that drives itself. Current systems scan painted lines as one of several detection methods, future systems are envisioned that will be guided by magnetic rails and other forms of enhanced highways.

Source: The Daily Conversation/Youtube
Source: The Daily Conversation/Youtube

There are several advantages of driverless cars. Accident avoidance is a major incentive because the car can respond faster than a human. The ultimate manifestation is the overall reduction of vehicles, according to PCMag. Driverless taxis can replace a family’s second car that sits idle all day. More vehicles can travel closer on the road at the same time, and the computer can operate the vehicle more economically than most people.

Among the sensors feeding information into the differential GPS are cameras, radar, and lasers. Cameras let the car’s computers see what’s around it while Radar allows vehicles to see up to 100 meters away in the dark, rain, or snow. Lasers, which look like a spinning siren light, continuously scan the world around your car and provide the vehicle with a continuous, three-dimensional omni-directional view of its surroundings.

“These sensors are providing you with raw information of the world. You need very sophisticated algorithms to process all that information, just like a human would,” said Sridhar Lakshmanan, a self-driving auto expert and engineering professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, to Time.

Fleet management

Fleet management allows companies which rely on transportation in business to remove or minimize the risks associated with vehicle investment, improving efficiency, productivity and reducing their overall transportation and staff costs.

Asset tracking is becoming used more and more by cities for waste management purposes by giving trash collectors the most efficient routes to collect the buildup of trash in urban environments.

source: AT&T Enterprise/Youtube
source: AT&T Enterprise/Youtube

North America is expected to reach 12.7 million active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in 2020, according to a recent study by Swedish M2M/IoT research firm Berg Insight.

The installed base of fleet management systems totaled 5.8 million at the end of 2015. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% during the 2015 to 2020 period.

The study also says that the number of active fleet management systems in Latin America is expected to increase from 2.3 million at the end of 2015 to 4.1 million in 2020.

Here are a few case studies on fleet management by Sempercon and GPSTrackIt.

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